Scottish schooling

Perhaps it’s too soon to give my impressions of Scottish schooling as the kids have only been at school for about a month but I’m going to do it anyway.

My first impressions are wonderful. I can’t fault anything about education Scotland. Daniel has joined a composite year 4/5 class which worried us a little because he was doing year 3 in New Zealand. But he’s made leaps and bounds in just four weeks and his confidence in his abilities has improved considerably. He also gets lots of one-on-one support from a teaching assistant which makes a huge difference.

They’ve already had a number of school trips and on each one we have been allowed to accompany him. This is great because Daniel is more anxious than most kids and likes to have one of us there when the routine changes. Unlike in England, we haven’t had to fill out forms for a police check in order to accompany our son on an excursion. Thanks goodness for that. All trips have been on foot too. No need for a bus in a walkable city.

One thing that’s nice about the composite class is there are fewer kids in it. Since the teacher has to cope with a wider range of abilities, the class size is capped at 25 which is 8 fewer than would be the case if it was just year 4 or year 5. I asked his teacher about this and she said it made a huge difference.

Elizabeth has also slotted in as a first-time school kid with ease. She started about a month and a half after all the other new entrants but has managed to catch up and is doing really well. They teach phonics here when kids are learning to read which means that rather than saying the letter names she has to say the sounds they make. I think Daniel would have found learning to read much easier with this method. Elizabeth would have been fine either way.

There are no school fees in the UK. State schooling is completely free. I’ve always thought this should be the case in New Zealand too. I don’t think there’s a better way to spend tax-payer money than on good state schooling. Not only is schooling free here, but the school also provides all the stationery and books. Parents don’t have to pay anything at all. This is very generous. They also give all primary 1 students free milk and morning tea. Personally I think this is going a bit far with the generosity but perhaps I just object to the milk on ethical grounds more than anything else. I don’t think they really need to provide free milk to kids in schools. What’s wrong with water? Elizabeth likes it though.

I also really like what I’ve seen of the curriculum so far. Elizabeth has been learning about forces and friction. She’s still only four but learning physics in a way that she seems to be enjoying. They’ve also been learning about Guy Fawkes and the Northern Lights. Daniel doesn’t tell us very much about what he does at school so I’m more in the dark on that one but I get information from his teacher. There’s a fantastic online mathematics game which kids can play called sumdog. It’s terrific. Daniel actually asks to play it.

Having access to good quality schooling makes a tremendous difference when you’re a parent. There’s nothing better than knowing your kids are being cared for and are well-looked after. It’s a huge relief.

Anyway, that’s all for now. I took this photo of an Aberdeen street recently because I loved the purple hues in the sky.